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State Dept spokesman quits after slam of Pentagon

14 march 2011, 09:48
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley resigned Sunday after slamming the Pentagon's treatment of a US solider suspected of leaking thousands of diplomatic cables and military documents to WikiLeaks as "counter-productive," AFP reports.

"Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman for the Department of State," Crowley said in a statement released by the State Department.

On Friday, Crowley departed from his characteristic diplomatic language when asked at a forum on new media and diplomacy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, about the United States "torturing" Private First Class Bradley Manning.

Crowley said Manning's treatment by the Defense Department, which includes solitary confinement and being forced to sleep naked, "is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid," BBC reporter Philippa Thomas wrote on her blog.
"Nonetheless Bradley Manning is in the right place," Crowley said, adding "there is sometimes a need for secrets" to advance US diplomatic interests.

Later Friday Obama insisted the Pentagon's treatment of Manning was appropriate.

Manning, 23, was arrested in June while deployed to Iraq amid suspicions he had passed a trove of secret US government documents to WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website which were then published in newspapers around the world.

Last week the US military unveiled 22 additional charges against Manning including the serious offense of "aiding the enemy," which carries a potential death sentence. But the army said he would face possible life in prison.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted Crowley's long service to the United States in accepting his resignation.

"(Crowley) has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian," she said.
Clinton said Michael Hammer, currently deputy spokesman at the state department, will serve as acting spokesman.

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